WOMEN'S HOCKEY: Bemidji State/Ohio State rematch about more than just brawl
BEMIDJI — The BSU women’s hockey team would prefer not to enter the record books when they play Ohio State this time around.
“Last time we met up with them it was quite… historical, I guess you could say,” BSU defenseman Alex Ehlert said Tuesday. “ We almost have a new rivalry going with them. We wanna beat them. We want to sweep them.”
The senior captain was referring to BSU’s game in Columbus, Ohio, Nov. 8, in which the Beavers and Buckeyes participated in a game-ending, bench-clearing brawl that resulted in a combined 49 penalties, 318 total penalty minutes and 19 game disqualifications when all was said and done. The penalty minutes in the game shattered the national record for combined penalty minutes in a game.
BSU won that game and went on to sweep the season series from OSU.
If that previous series didn’t give the rematch enough intrigue, there’s also this — the Buckeyes come to Bemidji this weekend four points ahead of the Beavers in the WCHA standings. Each team has just four games remaining on their schedule.
BSU head coach Steve Sertich said he doesn’t expect anything to get out of hand today or Saturday at the Sanford Center. The Beavers (9-18-3, 6-16-2-1 WCHA) and the Buckeyes (11-14-5, 6-13-5-2 WCHA) both have too much at stake for that.
“I think more important (than any bad blood from the brawl) is what the points represent,” Sertich said. “It’s in our hands. We know we have to beat them this weekend if we want to take fifth.
“Both teams want to stay out of the box and they know the importance of the points up for grabs.”
Ohio State is in fifth with 25 points while BSU is in sixth with 21.
“I think they’ll be out here for a little vengeance,” Ehlert said of OSU. “But at the same time I can see it being physical. Us captains have to tell our girls to play hard, stay out of the box, don’t play cheap and don’t give into any temptations. I think the refs will be calling a tight game.”
Bemidji State’s winless streak reached eight games following their sweep at the hands of Minnesota last weekend; BSU hasn’t won a game since Jan. 11 against St. Cloud State and has earned just one point in that span — tying North Dakota Jan. 24.
Ohio State, meanwhile, has won six out of its last 12 games and earned points in nine of those games.
“We haven’t played poorly,” Sertich said. “Generally we’ve played well but we’ve still lost. But we’d like to win and get that mojo back from the first half.”
Last weekend No. 1 Minnesota shutout the Beavers 10-0 in the series opener then scored the first four goals Saturday before BSU mounted a comeback with three goals in under two minutes.
The Gophers won 5-3 but Sertich was pleased with the comeback.
“Friday’s game was one where, if I could quote (former BSU men’s head coach Bob Peters), you flush down the toilet and move on,” Sertich said. “It was just one of those lousy games from top to bottom that everyone, including the coaches, was bad.
“But Saturday I was proud of our players to come back. There are teams that would have trouble coming back from a game like that but we played hard, played well and actually had a chance to come back against a pretty good hockey team.”